If you understand the value of having a website for your business in today's world then you know it's something that you must invest in continually.
I'm going to share what you should look to add to your site in 2018, but I'll start by sharing what you should have added in previous years.
What you should have from previous years
1. Google Analytics
This is a staple for us here at Eternal Works. You'd be surprised by the number of websites we come across that still do not track their site using Google Analytics.
I'm not just referring to the small companies that are working on their first or second website. I'm talking about multi-million dollar businesses with dozens, even hundreds of employees.
Google Analytics can tell you so much more than just how many people visit your site and for how long.
You can see what pages on your site work best and which pages need to be improved. You can see how your visitors use your website.
If you want to learn more about using Google Analytics to improve your web presence, we have a Google Analytics 101 class you can watch.
2. Heatmaps/UX Tracking
Between 2015 and 2016 tracking and improving user experience became a very big deal.
While site analytics tell us which pages on our site may not be performing well, it was nearly impossible to determine why beyond guessing.
With the addition of heat-mapping and visitor recordings, you can literally view how visitors use your page. You can see what they click on, where they move their mouse, and when they exit a page, or your site entirely.
When trying to create the best user experience, this tool is invaluable. If you're interested in learning more about continually improving your site to get a higher ROI you should read more about Growth-Driven website design.
In 2017 Google made some major changes to its search algorithms. It determined that a site with an SSL is better for their users than one without.
Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, immediately became a requirement shortly after it was confirmed by several leading authorities on SEO like Moz.
Truthfully, it makes complete sense. In today's world of hacking scares, and user fruad, it makes sense to provide your users with a safer experience.
Sure you can't guaruntee that your site will never be hacked, but you are letting your site visitors know that you are making an effort and you care about their safety.
I know, many folks are asking, "What is a CDN?". A CDN is a Content Deliver Network. I know that doesn't help explain its value.
Simply put, a CDN is a network of servers that all have your content (website) stored on them. Yes, exact copies of your website on multiple servers.
How does this help? Well aside from ensuring that your site stays up no matter what, it also helps deliver content faster.
CDNs make sure that your site loads from the server nearest to the site visitor.
For example; we're in Virginia Beach, VA. A website that is hosted in Virginia will load faster than a website that is hosted in California.
A CDN can have a copy of your site on a server in every major city around the world. This way even when the server closest to your site visitors is down it loads the site from the next nearest server.
In today's world of High Speed Internet your users have a very high speed expectation. You've only got a few seconds before they bounce.
This one felt like a "no-brainer" to me up until a phone call I had the other day. There are still people out there who don't think it's important to go where your users are.
I honestly would not preach mobile if the data said less than 20% of searches are done on mobile.
Well, that's not entirely true. We all know this is what we saw when the first generation smartphones hit the market and we all saw the writing on the wall.
Mobile is where people search first. It's so important that if you ignore making your website mobile-friendly, Google will not list your site in mobile search results.
There's so much data out there to support the importance of mobile-friendly web design that many companies are no longer creating traditional navigation for desktops.
They are using mobile navigation design practices on their desktop websites. Take a moment and think about the last 3 searches you did.
Did you go to your computer or pick up your phone? I've literally seen people sitting in front of their computer, stop typing and pick up their phone to do a search.
Mobile friendly is here to stay. It's important now and will increase in importance.
Mobile is where the majority of people go first, and as we all know it's easier to go to a crowd than it is to move the crowd.
So here's another acronym for you. What is AMP? Accelerated Mobile Pages. We wrote a post on AMP becoming the next big thing in search here.
In sports, speed kills the competition. It does the same in business and in search. You want to rank higher than your competitors? Make sure your site loads fast.
The best way to do this is by making all of your site Accelerated Mobile Pages. Essentially AMP allow webpages to load nearly instantaneously on mobile devices.
You'll typically find them in news sites, like MSNBC, FOX, ESPN or similar sites. Do a search on your smartphone and you'll see.
Google still labels pages that use AMP with a little gray circle with a white lightening bolt in it. These are pages that will load almost instantly.
If you want to win in the search engines, make sure your content is relevant and then make sure that you apply AMP design principles. This will make for a killer combination.
Did you know that a page that loads quickly can instantly reduce your bounce rate? Apply AMP to your site if you have not already.
In our research, from countless site audits and marketing assessments, we've found most companies are not converting leads because their users don't know what's next.
They are on a page of the website, but there are no clear signs of how to get started, where to get answers to their questions or simply what to do next.
This is where Calls-to-Action come into play. CTAs tell site visitors exactly what they should do next. For example: Click Here For A FREE Marketing Assessment.
If you want to know how you're company is doing with its marketing then you can click that link to have our team review and assess your current marketing efforts.
CTAs can tell your visitors how to stay in touch. "Subscribe to our newsletter" or "Follow us on Facebook" are two more examples that tell visitors exactly what to do.
CTAs should be very common on your website and other forms of marketing. If you're still not sure what a call-to-action is click on the link below.
Click here to learn what a Call-to-Action is . HubSpot does a great job explaining it in this 3 minute read.
By the way, that link is a CTA.
8. Landing Pages
This is not just a page on your website where people land. Landing pages in the world of marketing have two common characteristics.
Sure, you can add a lead capture page to any form, but that doesn't mean that the page is designed solely to "encourage" visitors to fill out the form.
For several years now, landing pages have been a key part of building sites that convert visitors to leads.
Companies see a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15. (Source)
Companies with 40+ landing pages get 12 times more leads than those with 5 or less. (Source)
Were you wondering why your competitors were doing so well? It's likely that they have more landing pages than you do.
More landing pages allow you to reach more people, through more offers and campaigns.
If you don't have any landing pages, maybe it's time we have a conversation and build a strategy around developing effective landing pages.
9. Premium Content
I was just having a conversation with my wife, who is also my business partner. She was reading a blog post and shared a great quote by Jay Acunzo.
"...Never feed salad to a lion"
Talk about what your audience is talking about. Give them answers to their questions. Talk about what's important to them.
So, if you're going to create premium content like eBooks, whitepapers, checklist, guides, how-to's, etc., make sure that they are valuable to your audience.
Premium content can be used as lead magnets and conversion tools. Essentially, this is content that attracts visitors to your site and provides enough value for a visitor to exchange their information to download it.
A good mix of premium content throughout the buyer's journey will result in more leads.
This is another key element you should already have on your website.
10. Marketing Automation
This is a big one. Over the past decade marketing automation has grown significantly. So much so that the space is quickly becoming overcrowded with various solutions.
What is Marketing Automation? HubSpot goes into great detail in the previous link, but in short it refers to the software used to automate marketing tasks. Typically tasks that are redundant.
Marketing automation is key to nurturing leads and providing a consistently good user experience.
It also allows your team to automate blog posts, social media posts, and newsletter emails.
You can save your company hundreds of hours by scheduling out promotional emails, blogs, and social posts weeks and months in advance.
Simply consider this. You can schedule out all your holiday emails in the first month of the year and they will send out automatically.
If that doesn't get you excited, then maybe you've just never tried to send out postcards or emails for the holidays.
Just a note... you should. Your community will appreciate it.
11. Social Links
Some people say they don't want to use social media because they themselves don't like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or any of the others.
Well, for starters, you should not build your site based on what you do or don't like. It should be all about what your primary personas and ideal customers like.
Whatever social platform they use most, is the one your company should be on and you should tell them that you're there.
We prefer putting social links at the top of a site, but they should at least be in the footer. You want to, clearly, tell your audience where they can connect with you and follow your brand.
The more contact points you have with them, the more likely you are to eventually earn their business.
As stated earlier, it's much easier to go to where the crowd is.
12. Exit-intent pop-ups/Hello bars
This is a great way to build your mailing list and start nurturing visitors. So what is an Exit-intent pop-up?
It's a "lightbox", or form that pops up when your site visitors move their mouse off your webpage to the back button or close button in their web browser.
It's kind of like a last effort to convert them before they leave your website. Typically, it asks them to join your newsletter or provides a special offer.
If you try to leave this page you will likely see ours.
What's a "Hello Bar"? Well it's another form of pop-up that usually slides in across the top of your site with a special offer or a newsletter signup request.
These typically load a few seconds after you first land on a webpage. The goal is to convert a lead upfront without "holding them hostage" before they exit the page.
It's a more friendly invite. Some sites have reported a 600% increase in mailing list opt-ins from using exit-intent pop-ups and hello bars.
13. Conversion Strategy
Today you need more than just a pretty website with CTAs and landing pages. These elements need to work towards a common goal.
You should know where you want a visitor to end up on your site and develop a strategy to get them there.
You should have premium content, landing pages, blogs, social posts, web pages, emails all working together to convert visitors into leads.
You should have a written plan outlining this process. You don't want to to just hope that visitors convert, you want to have a plan to convert visitors into leads.
Do you have a strategy for converting visitors into leads?
I know what you're thinking. We hear it all the time... "You don't have time to write". Was that what you were thinking?
Well, I hate to put it this way, but you better find the time, make the time or pay someone to blog.
The reality is that blogging does so much for your website based on SEO best practices and for people searching for answers. At least when it's done well.
Think of how search engines work for a moment. You ask a question, the search engines look through tons of websites for the answers to your questions.
The people who have an answer show up in search. The people with the best answers show up first, but it seems that the people with the most answers win over everyone.
Think about Wikipedia. I bet Wikipedia shows up as number 1 in more than half of internet searches.
Why? Because, they probably have an answer for nearly half of the things people search for.
The truth is they are just helping people find more answers than anyone else on the web.
Think about this. How many questions does your site answer for your ideal customers? How many questions do your competitors' sites answer? Who answers them better?
If you don't answer more questions, and answer them better then you better get to blogging right away. You're way behind and a good friend would have told you this last year.
15. Online Chat
Maybe you've avoided online chat because you thought someone should be managing it 24/7.
Well, time to stop worrying. Site visitors aren't expecting you to be on chat all the time. Just sometimes.
If you have pretty good chat software, it will allow visitors to schedule a meeting or send an email to get a quicker response from you or your team, but at your convenience.
Online chat allows visitors to get help from you and your team instead of just leaving when they don't see what they are looking for.
Online chat allows your team to engage your visitors.
16. Removed Hero Sliders
Okay, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're still trying to update the slides in your hero image, you're truly wasting time and resources.
Studies proved several years ago that less than 5% of people who use the internet look at more than the first slide. Less than 1% look at anything beyond the second slide.
Have you noticed that many websites of major brands have stopped using image sliders all together?
A good alternative, while not new is what web designers were doing prior, is loading a different image on refresh.
This can help a visitor feel like the site is providing new content. The images can refresh randomly, or in a sequence, or change by a specific date and time.
It's a great alternative if you must have more than 1 hero image, or would like to automate updates to your site content.
Things to add this year
If you want a site that generates leads then it's important to not only implement the things that are trending for 2018, but ensure you have not overlooked important strategies still working from previous years.
We'll start with something that took the internet by storm in 2017 and if you're not already doing this... you're way behind.
I recently read that if half of your content is video by now then you are way behind. At one time video was something that was hard to do and cost tons of money.
This is still true in most cases, because professional video should be done right. In the case of creating content, video should be helpful.
Consider this: "Companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non users" (Source)
Artificial Intelligence. This is going to be a game changer in 2018. Imaging having an online chat tool that can answer visitors questions...
AI combined with marketing automation will push marketing into a new realm. If you're not trying to implement AI now, you should start looking into ways that you can right away.
This is an area you don't want your competitors to beat you to.
19. Voice Search Optimization
Search is changing again. With the addition of Siri, Google Voice, Alexa, Cortana, and every other digital personal assistant, people are searching more through voice than ever.
Bing is reporting that over 25% of it's search is through voice technologies. (Source). This has changed SEO and Google has made changes to their algorithms as a result.
You should start "SEOing" your site based on how people talk in addition to how they type.
20. Updated Meta Descriptions
Moz recently reported that Google made some changes to the limits of their search results. (Read Moz's Report Here)
This will certainly impact rankings in a major way. It's likely to have a direct impact on click-through rates from search results.
It's also going to push results further down the page. As a result, users may not scroll as far down to see more results making the top 2 or 3 spots even more invaluable.
21. Topic Clusters
Okay, not more random blogging in all directions. So what is a topic cluster? Put simply, it's an authoritative page (Pillar page) about a specific topic that is linked to by pages that provide more detail on specific parts.
This is a huge part of the future of SEO and a great way to show visitors that you are a subject-matter expert in your profession.
Companies that do this well, will not only rank well in search engines, but will also gain the trust of their visitors.
Again, it's a race of who answers more questions best.
22. Pillar Pages
Ah, so we just mentioned this above. So, what exactly is it? A pillar page is a page that covers all aspects of a topic on one page.
It's typically a longer page and covers the information broadly, meaning they are not as in depth.
I know, just when you thought you were starting to wrap your head around SEO, now this comes along.
A pillar page is at the center of a content cluster.
23. CRM Integration
If you don't already use a CRM I recommend getting one quickly. The HubSpot CRM changed our business right away.
We're planning a blog to share "How a CRM grew our business in 1 year". We'll tell you all about how it made our lives easier and helped us double our growth.
So, if you are picking it up on your own, I think CRMs are amazing tools. I'm very bias towards HubSpot's in case you are wondering which one I think you should use.
Here's why. HubSpot's CRM is not only integrated with our marketing software, it's integrated with our website.
Any visitor that fills out a form on our site is automatically entered into our CRM. This is huge for those of us in sales.
It saves my whole team tons of time on data entry. The other kicker is that every time they provide us with more information through another form, that information is added to their profile in the CRM.
Did I mention that our CRM is also connected to our online chat? Yes it is. So now everything that we discuss in chat is added to their profile as well.
For us, this makes integrating your CRM into your website a must have for 2018.
Ready to tackle this list?
Are you excited by all of the possibilities? Are you ready to start implementing these strategies?
Do you know where to start? If you don't here's what we suggest.
Written by Tim Jones
As the founder of E-W, this comic artist has always held a passion for entrepreneurship and helping people—this grew into helping small business compete with larger competitors through branding and online marketing.
Eternal Works has found success under Tim's unique leadership in the creative industry and a strong focus on accountability.
"My goal is always to develop long term relationships with our clients that are built on blunt honesty, transparency and accountability. When it comes down to it, our clients have to know we are in their corner first."
Tim's hobbies include hanging with family and friends, watching NBA games, eating good food, music and drawing.